Time to go large… or go home!

Rachel Blake
Monday, October 7, 2019

If you’re thinking about going large (well, in terms of printing opportunities), then the time is ripe to broaden your horizons.

For years printers have centred themselves around certain specialisms, largely been based on what they know and the kit they have. However, this no longer needs to be the case.

If you have traditionally stuck with volume production printing and have usually turned away or outsourced large-format printing, then it just might be the right moment to take a leap of faith and step out of your comfort zone.

The acceleration in demand for large-scale indoor and outdoor graphics is driving the desire for traditional litho and screen printers to stretch their boundaries. The world of large-format digital printing is becoming increasingly accessible. The sophistication of these types of printers is opening up doors of opportunity – check out the video below.

Why get into large-format digital printing?
The spectrum and scale of media that can be printed on is increasingly becoming unrestricted. Driving these changes is the ability to print on alternative media such as acrylic, wood, glass and metal up to thicknesses of 100mm; combined with specialist, creative printing and personalisation. This means more and more printers are embracing the scope that these new, innovative areas can offer their customers. The knock-on effects of which are the creations of exciting new revenue streams.

What to consider when expanding into large-format digital printing?
However, before making that initial investment there are several things to consider. The first of which is to understand where you are now and where you want to go.

You may currently be a retail and screen printer and therefore adding a flatbed into your printer portfolio may be more appealing. In comparison, a litho printer may initially want to start out with a small roll-to-roll printer, where colour and precise quality is really important. Of course, just to add to the options, there is always a mix of both in the form of a hybrid. 

Whatever choice you make, being clear on the long-term vision of what you want to produce should influence the avenues you explore. There is no harm at this stage doing some market research, even if it is just asking your current customers what other printed materials they would be interested in. Or discussing with them the scope of what else you could produce and how that would fit with their business.

What should you be looking for in your large-format printer?
Once you have clarity on what direction you’re taking, it is time to consider the size of printer and what options you would like it to have.

You should also investigate what the running costs are to make sure they stack up financially for your business. There are several large-format printer brands out there, but it’s important to not be blinded by the leading brands just because they are more prevalent.

Consideration should also be given towards the vividness of print quality, the calibre of technology such as digital LED UV, the overall solidness of the machines alongside the price.

Explore your options as you will benefit much more from a printer that combines versatility and technology with reliability. Features it is worth looking at are production speeds, LED UV curing that reduces overall operational costs, automated functions and safety for increased productivity. Plus it is important to see it in action and navigate the graphical user interface, which ideally should be able to simplify, optimise and automate many steps. This will minimise the involvement time required by the printer handler.

Finally, what else should you be considering?
Quite fundamental to all of this is also your physical space.

Obviously, you should allow plenty of room for the printer as it is likely to have a fairly significant footprint. However, it is not just about this! You should also look at getting a cutter to complete and finish your projects, plus allow space for work table, a laminating area, computer and you will probably need a storage area for the board and vinyl stock.

Then once all of this is in place all you need to do is make some noise. Let people know what you now offer both locally, regionally and even nationally!

For more information and expert advice contact InkTec's UK team.


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